Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Compayny We Choose

We all have a lot of competing influences in our lives.  We have family, friends, coworkers, society, and our own flesh. The Bible tells us, though, not to be influenced by the world:
"I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice holy acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." - Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
We need to cut those things from our lives that lead us to sin.  We need to cut those influences out of our lives that would lead us astray.
"If your right eye causes you to sin pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than for your whole body to be cast into hell." Matthew 5:29-30 NKJV
Of course your right eye does not literally cause you to sin but that you choose to look at can and does.  Do you watch television and get tempted or led astray but immodesty, sexuality, violence, language, etc?  Do you play video games that promote such vile things are murder, violence, and sex?  Is this what you choose to fill your mind with filth?  If you constantly fill you mind with filth you are not allowing God to renew your mind.  If television, movies, games, or anything else leads you astray the you need to cut them out of your lives.  If God tells you to go so far as to cut out your eye if it causes you to sin, what do you think He would have you do with your television or PS3 or computer or anything else that cane be used to bring filth into your life?

Also, your right hand does not cause you to sin but who you extend that hand to may.  Are you more of an influence to your friends and family or do they influence you? Are you strong enough to be an example to them or do you follow them down a path of sin in the name of being accepted?  If you are not strong enough to be an example to those who lead sinful lives then you need to not hang out with those people.  If you consistently fail in your example you are not showing them the power of God in your life and therefore not bringing glory to God.  If anything, you are driving them further from God by your actions because they know that if God was real in your life you would act like it.  How can they ever take seriously what you may have to say about God if they can not see how God is real in your life?   If God would have you cut off your own right hand if it leads you astray, what would God have you do with those relationships or parties or outings that lead you astray? 

God is calling us to a deeper relationship with Him.  We were created for that purpose and there is no happier place to be.  Allow God to renew your mind, to cleanse you from your sin, and to complete that good work He began in you.  That is happiness. That is peace.
Finally brethren whatever things are true whatever things are noble whatever things are just whatever things are pure whatever things are lovely whatever things are of good report if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Friday, July 30, 2010

Self Justification

Until recently, the following was one of the scariest passages in the Bible to me:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" - Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
But just the other day I was again reflecting on these verses and I noticed something missing and God showed me another passage that I never really related to this one:
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." - Luke 18:10-14 NKJV
Sounds familiar doesn't it?  Those who were surprised as Jesus' judgment shouldn't have been but they were blinded by their own pride and self righteousness.  Their argument with Jesus was about all they claim to have done for Jesus and made no mention of the sacrifice Jesus made for them.  In other words, in their minds, they were justified by their own works.  We need to be careful to not fall into the same trap of getting so caught up in trying to do great things for God that we lose our relationship with God in the process.  We begin to focus on what we do instead of Whom we do it for and we begin to take credit for the work done instead of giving Glory to the God who enabled us to do them. Our works need to be an expression of our love for God and not a way of trying to earn God's love for us.  We can't earn God's love as His love for us is by virtue of us being His creation and our relationship with him is only possible because of Jesus' sacrifice. 

We all who love God want to do great things for Him and how to do that is to be faithful.  Faithful to the Gospel, faithful to His Word, and faithful to the Spirit's leading of our lives.  Faithfulness is the way to please God and if we are faithful in small things God will give us greater and greater things to do. 
"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" - Matthew 25:21

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Boasting

I hear a lot of bragging and I am guilty of it myself.  We brag about how good we are or how well we performed in a sport, at work, or just about anything else we thing we may be good at.  We like credit but what's unfortunate is that we feel we deserve it.  The Bible says otherwise.  We have nothing but by the grace of God and any credit we think we deserve is really due to God. 
"Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;"  - Jeremiah 9:23
Even worse, I hear Christian brag about their sin. Just take a moment to think about that, to think that a child of God feel so little conviction about sin that he or she feels it ok to actually BRAG about it.  A Christian should NEVER say "I got so drunk last night" or "I was able to find out such and such about such and such" unless you are confessing to sin.  Bragging about sin is utterly disgraceful and has no place in a child of God.
"But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person." - 1 Corinthians 5:11
That verse is referring to Christians.  That if a brother in the Lord is sexually immoral or covetous, or a reviler, or a drunkard etc that person has no place in your fellowship and so by bragging about your sin as though not only do you not need to repent of it but that others should GLORIFY it, you are bringing that judgment upon yourself.  By bragging about unrepented sin you are making your own self unworthy of being part of a church or having fellowship with other Christians.   That it is not my opinion, that is God's own word.  The beauty of God's love and grace, though, is that there is always room to repent so take the time and confess to God your sin, confess to your brothers and sisters in the Lord and make yourself accountable to them.  God will lead you to repentance but you first need to confess your sin.  Confess and let God continue that work that He promises to complete. 

So then, what do we boast in when we feel we need to boast?  Simple.  We boast about knowing God, we boast about what God has done in our lives.  We boast of His love, grace, forgiveness, provision, and protection.  We boast that we are children of the Living God.  We boast that our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus.  God even provides us what to boast about:
"But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD." - Jeremiah 9:24
Take the time today to tell someone about what God has done in your life.  Tell someone about Jesus.